How cooperatives work

Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada. It comprises a network of caisses, Desjardins Business centres and Signature Service centres, and some 20 subsidiary companies in life and general insurance, securities brokerage, venture capital and asset management.

At Desjardins Group, our goal is to be everyone’s #1 choice. Thanks to our varied distribution channels, numerous intermediary networks and personnel who strive to deliver the highest quality of service, we are able to stay close to our members and their communities.

In order to best meet members’ increasingly diverse needs, Desjardins pays special attention to the caisse network and its range of service delivery methods. We are also committed to ensuring vitality at the caisse level in terms of cooperative and democratic life, representation, education and training, cooperation with other cooperatives and support for community development.

Are you a caisse member? As members, you adhere to the values of solidarity and mutual aid that are the foundation of cooperation. Furthermore, to ensure that your caisse is financially sound, you get the financial services you need. You can also:

  • express your point of view by taking part in the annual general meeting
  • file your candidacy for election to the position of director
  • receive member dividends

The caisse is a democracy

A caisse operates on the "one member, one vote" principle. This means that it's impossible to take control of a cooperative, which could happen in a company if the major shareholder decides to do so.

The caisse Annual General Meeting

The caisse Annual General Meeting is called once a year, no later than 120 days after the end of the financial year. A Special General Meeting may also be called to discuss important matters such as caisse mergers.

Members can also contribute directly to caisse orientations. A member may inform others during the meeting about a local problem if they think the caisse has a solution or a way to support citizens in their efforts to correct the problem. Members may also express their opinions about caisse services (reception, information or business hours).

Generally, at the annual or extraordinary general meeting, members:

  • adopt or change caisse by-laws
  • in Quebec caisses, decide to divide surplus earnings and dividends among members
  • decide the amount paid into the community development fund
  • approve or reject caisse mergers
  • elect members to the Board of Directors

You too can become a caisse director!

If you would like to contribute to the democratic life of your caisse, you can become a director. Becoming a member of the Board of Directors is another terrific way to participate in the socio-economic development of your community.

Learn more about this role

Caisses may pay dividends to members

If caisse operations are profitable, the caisse will realize a surplus that is paid out to members. These surplus funds are also called "member dividends". The members of a caisse may also decide to allocate a portion or even all of the available surplus to one or several group projects. For example, members of several caisses have already spent considerable amounts on financial education, job creation projects, support for young businesses, promotion of local products and support organizations for people in crisis.

Learn more about member dividends

Cooperative objectives

As a financial services cooperative, your Desjardins caisse has objectives that make it very different from other financial institutions:

  • providing, in the best possible conditions, the financial advice and services that members need to achieve and sustain financial wellness
  • contributing to the cooperative, economic and financial education of members, or providing them with a way to make informed decisions
  • promoting and supporting community development

Profitability for a different purpose

Every enterprise has to turn a profit and Desjardins Group also has to follow market prices and conditions. However, the caisses always use their profits to better serve their members, and not for the good of a select few shareholders. Desjardins Group seeks to foster human development and help people improve their quality of life.

Use your caisse's services

You're a member of a financial services cooperative guided by values, principles and a sense of responsibility.

Your caisse plays a key role in the economic and social development of your community. When you look to your caisse to get the financial services you need, you’re also contributing to its financial well-being and helping it meet its profitability objectives. This allows the caisse and Desjardins Group as a whole to continue offering advice, products and services that are adapted to the evolving needs of members and are in their best interest.

For a caisse, this also means that it can continue to promote values like equality and solidarity, all the while providing the community and citizens with the tools they need to take control of their future and be more autonomous. This philosophy is also shared by Desjardins Group subsidiaries.

You have a say in how your caisse is run and how it contributes to the community.

Take part in your caisse's democratic life

Ask questions about caisse activities and performance and share your point of view. Elect members to the Board of Directors. How? By participating in your caisse's Annual General Meeting and member consultations.

Become a caisse director

If you would like to contribute to the democratic life of your caisse, you can become a director. Becoming a member of the Board of Directors is a great way to represent members of your community.

Learn more about this role

Be part of the next generation of board members

The Board Succession program gives you the opportunity to learn more about the activities of the Board of Directors and contribute to your caisse's performance as an observer without voting rights.

Learn more about this role

Share your opinion on Desjardins products and services

The Desjardins Web Panel is a group of Desjardins clients and members who agree to take part in online surveys on various subjects. It gives you the opportunity to share your opinion and influence the development of products and services designed for you. Moreover, you can test and comment on new products and services that could be offered to you.

Find out more about the Desjardins Web Panel

The board of directors is made up of up to 15 members elected by members during the annual general meeting in April. In addition to attending board meetings, the board members also work in committees to address certain specific issues.

The board of directors reviews, controls and decides on the caisse's affairs according to Desjardins values and what's best for current and future members of the caisse and of Desjardins Group. The board takes the necessary steps to understand members' needs and make sure they are satisfied. It ensures the caisse contributes to responsible and sustainable development in the community and is managed in a sound and prudent manner according to regulations in order to protect the caisse's long-term sustainability.

The Board of directors has the following duties:

  • Cooperation and community involvement
    It ensures that Desjardins's mission, values and distinctive nature are reflected in the caisse's practices and activities, including promoting member education, contributing to community development in partnership with other caisses and organizations and participating in collaborative activities.
  • Member needs and satisfaction
    Because the board represents caisse members, it must pay special attention to ensuring that current and future members are satisfied. It must consult members and involve them in decisions relating to caisse priorities and base its decisions on what is best for members, while promoting the caisse's long-term sustainability and Desjardins Group's priorities.
  • Strategic management and performance
    To ensure the caisse's growth and long-term sustainability, the board determines the caisse's direction and strategic priorities and approves and monitors the business plan and budget.
  • Integrated risk management and compliance
    The board ensures that the caisse is managed in a sound and prudent manner, in compliance with risk management and compliance frameworks.
  • Overseeing general management and employees
    The board appoints the general manager, evaluates their performance and ensures that regulations and HR management programs are strictly followed. It also ensures that the incentive plan promotes Desjardins behaviours.
  • Governance and professional conduct
    The board assesses its own performance, adopts a skills development plan for its directors, reviews the mandates for its committees, ensures that the enhanced group profile is updated and on target and reports on its activities at the general meeting. It also oversees compliance with the Desjardins Code of Professional Conduct and other governance guidelines and frameworks.

Every year, Desjardins Group holds its Annual General Meetings. All publicly available documentation from the event is posted on the Annual General Meetings page.

What is a Desjardins Group Congress of Elected Directors?

Desjardins Congresses are held as needed (generally every 3 to 5 years). They bring together directors delegated by their caisses to discuss major themes that will guide the organization's growth in the years to come.

A Desjardins Congress is an ideal opportunity for caisses to reflect on their members' needs and on ways in which they can contribute to the economic and social development of their community.

Congress participants are essentially caisse elected directors.

Each caisse delegates a specific number of participants based on the total number of members it serves. The themes covered during a congress are inspired by the challenges Desjardins Group is facing at the time and the socio-economic context of the period.


Desjardins Group takes the protection of personal information very seriously. The policy it has adopted to this end establishes the directions and rules that Desjardins Group components set for themselves and abide by with regards to member and client personal information collected, used or disclosed.

The policy explains how Desjardins Group components protect the privacy of personal information as they provide members and clients with financial services. It also describes the principles they apply to protect the privacy of their respective members and clients while operating in Canada both on an inter-provincial or intra-provincial basis.

Code of Ethics

To maintain its reputation for integrity and the confidence of its members, clients, partners, suppliers and the general population, Desjardins has equipped itself with several tools. Among them is the Desjardins Code of Professional Conduct.

Learn more

See frequently asked questions about ethics and professional conduct (FAQ).

Sponsorships and charitable partnerships

For a local or regional project initiative, contact your caisse or go to the caisse website.

Desjardins is actively involved in the community, and especially with youth. We’re committed to giving them the means they need to succeed.

We help them become more financially literate and achieve their career goals and entrepreneurial and social involvement projects. We also support them in their health and healthy lifestyle initiatives.

See our sponsorship and charitable partnership guidelines

Apply for a sponsorship or a charitable partnership

Learn more about our youth partnerships